Saturday, May 3, 2008

Drink This. It May Prevent Diabetes

Drinking coffee can help ward off type 2 diabetes and may even help prevent certain cancers, according to leading scientists who attended the Experimental Biology 2007 meeting in Washington, D.C., report Reuters and WebMD.

Just don't call coffee a health drink. Those same researchers warn that coffee appears to increase the risk of leukemia and stomach cancer, with the case for leukemia being strongest.

"We're coming from a situation where coffee had a very negative health image," Dr. Rob M. van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health, who has conducted studies on coffee consumption and diabetes, told Reuters Health. And while coffee isn't quite an elixir for good health, it does have certain benefits beyond serving as a morning pick-me-up.

The benefits to your morning cup of java:

  • Adults who consume six to seven cups of coffee daily lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 33 percent over those who drink only two cups a day, according to van Dam, who in 2005 analyzed eight major studies to come up with this conclusion. A 2006 study showed that two to three cups of coffee a day lowers women's risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent, while four or more cups of coffee cuts the risk by more than 40 percent. Van Dam says at least seven other studies suggest similar conclusions.

What IS it in coffee that offers protection from diabetes? It's not the caffeine. Instead, it's something else, most likely chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that slows the absorption of glucose in the intestines.

  • Coffee may also protect against cancer of the colon, rectum and liver by reducing the amount of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol secretion in the colon, speeding up the passage of stool through the colon and thus decreasing the amount of time the lining of the intestine is exposed to potential carcinogens in food, according to Dr. Lenore Arab of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She arrived at this conclusion after reviewing 400 studies on coffee consumption and cancer risk.

The downside of drinking coffee:

  • Dr. Arab also found that coffee may increase the risk of leukemia and stomach cancer, with the case for leukemia being strongest especially in the children of pregnant women who drink coffee.

--From the Editors at Netscape


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